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y . 

in the Collection of 
the Cooper-Hewitt 

The Smithsonian 
histitution's National 
Museum of Design 



in the Collection of 
the Cooper-Hewitt 
Museum , 
The Smithsonian 
Institution's National 
Museum of Design 

././././/. /.//.I.l.^ 


Rene Lalique, 1860-1945 


Vase, "Gros Scarabees" about 1930 
Acid-etched molded glass 

From the collection of the late Stanley Siegel; 
the gift of Stanley Siegel, 1975-32-7 

Title pofic 

Denis Diderot, Eucyclopeiiif 

Paris. 1762-72. 

vol. 10, plate 20 

Black and white photographs by Tom Rose 
Cover photograph by Scott Hyde 
Design by Heidi Humphrey 

© 1979 by the Smithsonian Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog No. 79-54228 

Glassmakers at work. From Goorgius Agricola, Do Re MitoU'ua, Book 12, originally 
published 1556. 


The history of glass is one of a very 
special marriage of material and 
technique. The unique qualities of 
glass-its functional ability to hold 
liquids, its transparency or opacity, 
and its potential for reflecting and 
transmitting color and light-have 
fascinated and delighted both its 
makers and owners since early times 

As with all of the collections at the 
Cooper-Hewitt, we are committed 
not only to building and caring for 
them, but to making them accessible 
to the public. It gives me pleasure to 
introduce our glass collection with 
this publication which was made 
possible through the generosity of 
Steuben Glass, New York. 

The collection of glass at the 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum provides a 
visual delight to the Museum's visi- 
tors and is an invaluable resource for 
students and designers. It ranges in 
date from ist-century Syrian- 
Roman examples to the present 
century. Within the collection are 
superb examples of 18th-century 
engraved glass which came to the 
Museum as part of the James Hazen 
Hyde collection of "Four Conti- 
nents" material, wonderful Art 
Deco pieces designed by Rene 
Lalique, works produced in the 
studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany 
and other 20th century designers and 
companies, such as Steuben. 

Lisa Taylor 

The Cooper-Hewitt Collection: Glass 

The history of the decorative arts is a 
visual record of a human ability to 
transform the natural materials of the 
world to meet'varied requirements 
of usefulness, and to satisfy an innate 
desire to shape and ornament the 
necessary accoutrements of daily life . 
The creative gesture inherent in man's 
need to shape, and the inspiration 
and craftsmanship which they 
embody, become documents of 
man's place in time and culture. Of 
all the materials drawn from the 
earth's natural resources with which 
people have created functional and 
beautiful forms, few products have 
so elegantly combined technical 
knowledge and the human creative 
impulse as glass. Among the most 
fragile and precious of substances, at 
once both solid and ephemeral, glass 
retains a pride of position in history. 
The raw ingredients for making 
glass are basic and common; the 
transformation of these ingredients 
into jewel-like receptacles for light is 
one of the miracles of human effort. 

A technical definition of glass de- 
scribes the material as a liquid which 
cools and hardens without crystalli- 
zation, becoming so stiff that it has 
the property of being a solid. Silica, 
usually in the form of ordinary sand. 

provides the bulk of the raw mate- 
rials that are melted together at 
extremely high temperatures, along 
with additives such as lime or soda to 
render the molten mass workable. 

The process by which glass was 
created is of venerable antiquity; 
although research has indicated that 
glass was produced in Western Asia 
as early as 3,000 B.C., some of the 
earliest e.xtant vessels have been 
found in the context of pharaonic 
Egypt. Since that time, craftsmen 
have elaborated upon basic tech- 
niques of production, although the 
processes have, in reality, changed 
comparatively little. The most basic 
process involves combining raw 
materials to form a "batch"; these 
materials are heated to over 2000° 
Fahrenheit to produce a viscous, red- 
hot liquid. Ultimately, the molten 
material is worked to create a formed 
and shaped solid. This process is a 
record of the triumph of ingenuity 
over material. To appreciate and 
understand the history of glass in its 
myriad forms, functions and con- 
texts, it is important to recognize 
certain of the basic techniques 

The collections of glass at the 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum are ency- 

clopedic in scope, with notable 
strengths, and present many of the 
processes ot fabrication and the 
techniques of forming and orna- 
menting glass within an historical 
context. It is with techniques as a 
focal point that the collection of the 
Cooper-Hewitt is surveyed here. 

The origins of glassmaking are not 
entirely clear, although certain 
authors have suggested that the 
technique may have grown out of 
the knowledge and use of pottery 
glazes that, when fired, produce a 
shiny, transparent (or translucent), 
impervious surface on earthenware 
products. By the time of King 
Thotmes III of Egypt (i 504-1450 
B.C.), basic techniques for the 
production of hollow glass vessels 
were known. Early examples of 
Egyptian glass tend to be of solid- 
core fabrication. A core of mud, 
possibly mixed with straw, was 
shaped on the end of a rod; this form 
was dipped in molten glass and 
rolled on a flat surface to produce a 
smooth, rounded body. Dipping 
and wrapping the form in several 
layers of glass built up a body wall 
thick enough to withstand use, and 
with the removal of the internal core 
by crushing the mud, the glass body 
wall was self-supporting. These 

small core vessels were among the 
earliest successes in the handling of 
the material, and in their simplicity 
belie the technical understanding 
involved, including the technology 
of furnace construction and varying 
composition of the raw materials. 
The colored, transparent, translu- 
cent and opaque effects which could 
be achieved with the material were 
quickly exploited, and early makers 
used glass to imitate precious and 
semi-precious stones, as Egyptian 
jewelry indicates. In addition to its 
tunctional qualities, it was recog- 
nized that glass could create forms 
that , in essence, captured air and light 
in a transparent shell, a quality which 
remains to the present day a basic and 
primary characteristic of the material 
(Fig. I). 

Subsequent to the production of 
solid-core vessels, mold-casting, and 
carving of raw blocks of glass, a 
major advance in the manipulation 
of the material occurred. It was dis- 
covered, either accidentally or inten- 
tionally, that the red-hot liquid was 
viscous enough to be balanced on the 
end of a hollow pipe while air was 
introduced into the center of the 
molten gather (a quantity of molten 
glass) through the bore of the pipe. 
This technique permitted craftsmen 
to easily and quickly create thin- 
walled bubbles of glass of varying 
shape and size, thus paving the way 
for the brilliant history of blown 
glass. After the initial blowing of the 
body, the bubble could be removed 
from the hollow rod, exposing an 
open end . The opposite end was then 
reattached to a solid rod with a lump 

I.J. and L. Lobmeyr factory 
Vienna, Austria 

Water Glass, Finger Bowl, Candlestick 
and Two Bonbonnieres, 1926 

Blown clear glass 

Purchased in memory of Georgiana L. 
McClellan, 1958-98-1, 3, 8, 4 

2. Detail of a typical "pontil" mark. 

of molten glass; the vessel could then 
be worked further. This attachment 
is known as a "pont 1"- on blown 
glass one can often detect the rough 
surface which remains when the 
completed vessel is broken away 
from the pontil (Fig. 2). 

The process of blowing glass has 
been described by many authors, 
from antiquity to the present. In 
1556, Georgius Agricola published 
his important work De Re Metallka, 
a lengthy tome on mining, metal- 
lurgy and related processes. In this 
book Agricola includes a descrip- 
tion of the fabrication of blown glass 
vessels, which describes the tech- 
nique as follows: 

'The glass-makers often test the glass by 
drawing it up with the blowpipes; as 

3 . Group of Syrian-Roman vessels, 
ist-4th century A. D. 

Blown glass with applied decoration. 

a. Purchased in memory of William G. 


b. Purchased in memory of Marie Torrance 


c. Gift of Mrs. Leo Wallerstein, 

d. Gift of Rodman Wanamaker, 

soon as they observe that the fragments 
have been re-melted and purified satis- 
factorily, each of them with another 
blow-pipe which is in the pot, slowly 
stirs and takes up the glass which sticks 
to it in the shape of a ball like a gluti- 
nous, coagulated gum. He takes up just 
as much as he needs to complete the 
article he wishes to make; then he 
presses it against the lip of marble and 
kneads it round and round until it con- 
solidates. Wlien he blows through the 
pipe he blows as he would if inflating a 
bubble; he blows into the blow-pipe as 
often as it is necessary, removing itfrom 
his mouth to re-fill his cheeks, so that 
his breath does not draw the flames into 
his mouth. Then, twisting the lifted 
blow-pipe round his head in a circle, he 
makes a long glass, or moulds the same 
in a hollow copper mould, turning it 
round, then warming it again, blowing 

it and pressing it, he widens it into the 
shape of a cup or vessel, or of any other 
object he has in mind. Then he again 
presses this against the marble to flatten 
the bottom, which he moulds in the 
interior with his other blow-pipe. 
Afterward he cuts out the lip with 
shears, and, if necessary , addsjcct and 
handles. If it so pleases him, he gilds it 
and paints it with various colours. 
Finally, he lays it in the oblong earth- 
enware receptacle, which is placed in 
the third furnace, or in the upper 
chamber of the second furnace that it 
may cool. " [Translation by H. C. 
Hoover and L. H. Hoover, 1912.] 

It was during tlie Roman period that 
free-blown and mold-blown glass 
was first produced in enormous 
quantities; the thousands of simple 
domestic vessels and containers 

which have survived to the present 
day give some indication of the 
extent of production (Fig. 3a, b, c;d). 
It is thought that the earliest efforts to 
blow glass occurred in Phoenicia 
sometime before the birth of Christ; 
during this period of time it was 
recognized that this highly desirable 
material could also provide a lucra- 
tive income to merchants and itin- 
erant glass blowers, and glass fabri- 
cated in Syria and Egypt was 
transported as far away as present- 
day Cologne by way of the Romans. 
The Roman period is noteworthy for 
the amount of glass produced, and 
for the variety of techniques which 
were developed for forming and deco- 
rating the glass. The Romans were 
adept at manipulating rods or 
"canes" of colored glass which could 
be combined in patterns, sliced, and 

4 a. Syrian 

Bowl, ist century A. D. 
Blown and tooled glass 

Gift of Mrs. Leo Wallerstcin, 

b. Graeco-Roman 

Cup, ist century B.C. to I st century 


Blown glass with folded edge 

Gift of Louis Cable Chard, 

joined to produce a "millefiori" or 
"thousand flowers" pattern familiar 
to modern paperweight collectors. 
However, free-blown vessels by far 
outnumber other varieties ot glass 
from tljis period. Syrian-Roman 
glass is of two basic types-luxury 
products made for aristocratic 
connoisseurs, and simple and easily 
produced domestic forms. The 
Museum collection is fortunate to 
possess fine examples of the latter 
type, in the form of beakers, vials, 
cosmetic bottles, and medicine con- 
tainers, most dating from the ist 
through 4th centuries A.D. Many of 
these early examples came to the 
Cooper-Hewitt through the gener- 
ous gift of Rodman Wanamaker. 

Decoration of Syrian-Roman 

domestic glass took several forms. 
The simplest decoration resulted 
from the shaping of the body itself, 
and consisted of manipulating the 
glass bubble to give it a distinctive 
shape, particularly in the length of 
the neck, by rolling the upper edge of 
the sheared bubble to produce a 
smooth, reinforced lip (Fig. 4b), or 
using pincers to squeeze and stretch 
the soft, hot glass in predetermined 
shapes, such as ribs (Fig. 4a). Other 
decorative or functional features 
could be applied to the previously 
formed body-a blob of glass could 
be pulled to form a handle (Fig. 3d), 
or the threads could be attached to 
the surface for purely decorative 
reasons, producing a mesh-like 
entwined surface covering (Fig. 
3b, c). 

Due to the nature of the raw mate- 
rials, Roman and Syrian glass was 
generally of a greenish transparency. 
Those vessels which survive are 
often of peacock-feather iridescence, 
although that was never the intent of 
the glassmaker. The radiant surface 
which we find so appealing is actu- 
ally the result of deterioration of the 
material; the composition of glass is 
such that, given centuries of expo- 
sure to chemicals in the environ- 
ment, it will slowly react. Since 
much Egyptian and Roman glass has 
been preserved through accidental or 
intentional burial in the earth, these 
pieces exhibit the characteristic iri- 
descence. These changes cause the 
crystalline structure of the glass to 
reflect certain colors in the spectrum 
of light. Iridescence is unrelated to 

the original color of the glass, only to 
the light rays that it absorbs or re- 
flects. This accidental beauty was 
intentionally exploited in the latter 
part of the 19th century; the works of 
Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios, 
among others, stand as supreme 
examples of the technique of man- 
made iridescence (Fig. 5). 

During the i8th century, Persian 
glassmakers revived the traditions of 
free-form and mold-blown glass. 
Sinuous, long-necked flasks were 
produced by stretching and twisting 
the air bubble while it was still on the 
blowpipe (Fig. 6). The two ewers, 
whose bodies are simple bubbles 
with extended necks, have applied 
handles and spouts (Fig. 6). 


Blown iridescent glass 

From the collection of the late Stanley 
Siegel; the gift of Stanley Siegel, 

Flask and Ewers, i8th century 
Blue, amber, and green blown and mold- 
blown glass 

Gift of Rodman Wanamaker, 
1929-24-86, 90, 93 


Attributed to Bernard Perrot 
France, active 1662-1688 

Scent Bottle 

Blue mold-blown glass 

Bequest of Mrs. Sarah Cooper-Hewitt 
193 1-6-59 

Free-blown glass has never dimin- 
ished in popularity, although the 
principle of air expansion within a 
gather of molten glass lead to 
other developments within a rela- 
tively short time. It was rapidly 
understood that the still supple 
bubble of glass could be altered by 
pressure on the exterior surface to 
create impressions or indentations in 
the body wall. Potters had long been 
familiar with the technique of press- 
ing soft clay into a patterned mold to 
produce regular, standardized shapes 
and ornaments; glassblowers 
adapted this technique to produce 
mold-blown glass. A mold imper- 
vious to the intense heat of the glass, 
usually constructed in two separable 
and close-fitting halves, allowed the 
insertion of a gather of molten glass. 
Air blown through the blowpipe 

which held the gather of glass caused 
the glass to expand and take on the 
shape ot the surrounding mold. 
When cooled and hardened the mold 
was opened and removed from 
around the glass, producing a shaped 
and decorated vessel. The Cooper- 
Hewitt collection contains a fine, 
rare example of a 17th century use of 
this technique: a scent bottle in the 
shape of a man's head produced in a 
two-part mold (Fig. 7). Although 
rather crudely modelled, the details 
such as the hair texture are distinct. 
This deep blue bottle has been attrib- 
uted to the French glassblower 
Bernard Perrot (active 1662-1688). 

Since the traditional technique of 
mold-blowing permitted rapid 
production of ornamented and 
shaped containers, and due to the fact 

Dyottville Glassworks 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Quart Flask, about 1850 
Mold-blown glass 

Gift of Miss Eleanor Gamier Hewitt, 

that the mold insured regularity of 
form, the technique had obvious 
commercial implications. By the 
19th century, this process was fully 
exploited by producers of bottles for 
medicines and spirits (Fig. 8); these 
often amusing bottles are frequently 
decorated with commemorative 
devices or portraits of well-known 
figures, and sometimes with the 
name of the bottle producer or the 
commercial purchaser who used the 
container for packaging. An exten- 
sion of this process of mechanical 
reproduction of forms and decora- 
tions, in which molten glass is 
poured into a patterned mold and 
subjected to pressure, produces the 
familiar "pressed" glass. The process 
was patented in the 1820s by an 
American, Demingjarves, the 
founder of the Boston and Sandwich 

Glass Company. 

Of great interest to historians and 
students of glass making are the 
processes used in the formation of 
the glass body; the techniques de- 
scribed above — solid-core dipping 
and forming, free-form blowing, 
mold-blowing, and pressing — are 
among the most basic. The orna- 
mentation of the glass is the next 
most important consideration. 
Ornamentation may take many 
forms, only a few of which can be 
surveyed in any detail in this cata- 
logue, but certain basic techniques 
can be described which give the 
craftsman nearly unlimited possibil- 
ities for the ornamentation of ob- 
jects. In addition to the manipulation 
of the glass surface as described 
above, other techniques of ornamen- 

tation are well represented in the 
Cooper-Hewitt collection, and are 
of interest both from a technological 
and art historical point of view. 
These processes include: applying 
decoration to the surface of an object 
in the form of additional glass, 
colored enamels or gilding; remov- 
ing portions of the glass through 
cutting, engraving or etching; con- 
trolling the color and opacity of the 
material to produce unusual effects 
with the reflection and refraction of 
light, and combining various colors 
and types of glass within one forrn. It 
is rare that a single decorative tech- 
nique is used in isolation in the pro- 
duction of a piece of glass, and many 
of the techniques are closely related; 
over the centuries glassworkers, de- 
signers and artists have skillfully 
combined these techniques to pro- 

duce glass in great variety of forms, 
each style with its own attraction. 

9- Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) 
New York 

Stemmed Bowl, 

"Favrilc" glass, about 1900 
Blown, iridescent glass with applied 

Gift of Joseph L. Morris, 


Applied Decoration 

France (Ncvcrs) 

Female Figure, i8th century 
Colored opaque lampworked glass 

Gift of Frederick T. Victoria, 
1 969-3 9- 1 

Applied details on glass vessels often 
had a tunctional purpose, such as 
forming a handle or foot. However, 
the decorative potential of glass 
added to the surface of an object was 
quickly absorbed into the context of 
fabrication. Even earlier than the 
Roman period, the Egyptians had 
trailed multi-colored glass threads 
across the surface of solid-core 
vessels to produce striations of bril- 
liant color. By Roman times this 
technique had common acceptance; 
often the glass threads thus applied 
were of the same color as the body, 
the difference in color resulting from 
the varying thickness of the material. 

Each addition of glass on the surface 
requires that the body of the piece be 
heated to a temperature which will 
allow the added glass to fuse to the 
surface without melting and collaps- 
ing the hollow form. The careful 
control of the heating process, in 
which the vessel is inserted into a 
"glory hole", heated to between 
2300° F. and 2700° P., is a primary 
requisite of good craftsmanship. 
Applied blobs of glass, stretched and 
manipulated to produce tapered 
drops is exemplified in a stemmed 
bowl produced at the Louis Comfort 
TifTany Studios (Fig. 9), one of a 
pair in the Museum's collection 

bequeathed by Joseph L. Morris. 

Applied glass may also be used for 
the entire construction of objects, as 
exemplified in the work of craftsmen 
at Nevers, France in the 1 8th century 
(Fig. 10). These figures were pro- 
duced by manipulating multi-col- 
ored rods of glass over the heat of a 
lamp, fusing the applied pieces 
together. The technique is described 
by Johann Kunckel, a chemist and 
glass-maker in Potsdam in 1679; his 
book Ars V'itraria Expcrimeiitalis or 
I 'ollkommi'ue Glasmachkiiiist (The 
Complete Art oj Glassmakiii};) includes 
the following passage: 

"This is ii'iiiit I call the minor art of 
<^lass-hlou'iui^, which is executed at the 
lamp. Though it is not the most useful 
oJ arts, it is nevertheless one of the most 
delicate in all i>lass-makhni and the 
source of much delight. How these 
pretty and elegant objects are made I 
will now relate: 

Tirst obtain from a glass-house a 
number of little rods or tubes of good and 
pure crystal glass in divers colours; little 
pieces oJ broken Venetian glass serve 
our purpose best. Take a small tube 
such as I have metitioned above, soften 
it at one end, and by blowing into it you 
can form spheres and other shapes; 







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1 1 a, b. Switzerland, 

Beaker and Pitcher, i8th century 
Enamelled glass 

The C. Helme and Alice B. Strater 
Collection; the gift of C. Helme Strater, 
John B. Strater, and Margaret S. Robinson, 

anyone who understands how to ma- 
nipulate the glass will be able to produce 
whatever he fancies in this way, such as 
pictures, figures, crucifixes, small ves- 
sels and anything you can imagine. 
Very often you needfor this purpose 
small pincers and little clamps made of 
wire, in order to hold a piece when your 
hands are occupied with various others, 
and when you have to heat several 
pieces which are to be welded together in 
the flame. " [Translation from F. 
Kampfer and K. Beyer, Glass; a 
World History . . . (1966) no. 144] 

Applied Decoration: 
Enamels and Gilding 

For many centuries glass has been 
ornamented with colors painted and 
affixed to the surface. The decoration 
may be "cold" — that is, painted on 
the glass with a non-permanent and 
chemically unrelated material, such 
as oil paint. However, most enam- 
elled glass on which the decoration 
survives is "hot" work using enam- 
els composed of metallic coloring 
combined with a compatible flux 
that fuses the color permanently to 
the surface of the glass. The process 
of enamelling was known as early as 
Roman times, and has remained 
popular to the present. A striking 
resurgence of the technique occurred 
in Germany in the i6th century, par- 
ticularly in Bohemia; bright, opaque 

enamels were used on many forms, 
including large cylindrical drinking 
vessels known as Humpen. The 
enamel tradition survived into the 
1 8th century; the Cooper-Hewitt 
collection is particularly rich in Swiss 
enamelled glass of 1 8th century date 
through the generous gift of enam- 
elled folk glass from the C. Helme 
and Alice B. Strater Collection. 
Enamel decoration on these vessels 
was often applied for purely orna- 
mental reasons, and patterns in- 
cluded flowers, scrolls, foliage, and 
abstract motifs. Equally important 
were enamelled designs of family, 
religious or political interest; an 
enamelled beaker with the symbols 
of the Passion exemplifies this style 

An unusual variation in the enam- 


r2. Dauni Factory 
Nancy, France 

Vase, late 19th century 

Blown, cased, enamelled, and acid etched 


Purchased in memory ofjacob SchifF, 
1 969-48- 1 

elling technique may be found in the 
late 19th century vase made at the 
Daum factory in Nancy, France (Fig. 
12), in which the enamelled design of 
a landscape with realistic birch trees 
is entirely encased in another layer of 
glass, giving great depth to the 
painted decoration. The outer sur- 
face of the vase has been cut to pro- 
duce three-dimensional tree trunks. 
This process involves multiple cycles 
of heating and cooling the object. 

A thin layer of gold, usually applied 
in an oil medium, could also be used 
to ornament glass; on an i8th cen- 
tury wine glass (Fig. 13) the gilded 
details of lip and cut shell motifs is 
skillfully combined with delicate 
engraving. A related technique for 
ornamenting glass consisted of in- 
serting patterned gold foil between 
two separate layers of glass, held 
together with an adhesive. 


Cutting, Engraving, 

13. Silesia 

Wine Glass, mid-i8th century 
Cut engraved and gilded glass 

Purchased in memory ofjames Loeb. 

Ornamentation of glass through the 
removal of a portion of the body 
may be extreme, as in the case of 
severely abrasive cutting and fac- 
etting, or it may be fme and delicate 
as in diamond and copper-wheel 
engraving, or it can be highly tex- 
tural or frosted through acid etching. 

The technique of cutting away of 
large areas of glass to produce facets 
that sparkle with reflected prismatic 
light is frequently employed on the 
stems of wine glasses and goblets 
(Fig. 14a) , although a standard use of 
cutting was in the production ot bril- 
liant facetted drops for chandeliers, 
candleholders, and sconces (Fig. 15). 
The cutting of glass is a jeweller's 

14- Germany 

a. Standing Cup, 1 8th century with 
representations of the Four 
Engraved and diamond-cut clear glass 

Gift of the Trustees of the Estate of 
James Hazcn Hyde, 
1 960- 1 -84 


b. Beaker, early i8th century with 
representations of the Four 
Engraved clear glass 

Gift of the Trustees of the Estate of 
James Hazen Hyde, 

technique, related to the facetting 
and carving of various minerals, 
such as rock crystal, and precious 
stones. The cutting of glass is re- 
corded early in the history of the 
craft. Pliny (A.D. 23-78) in his 
Natural History (XXXVII, 28) states: 
"It is marvellous how closely glass- 
wares have come to resemble those 
of rock crystal . . . ." Cutting can be 
accomplished by means of a cutting 
wheel, in which the object is pressed 
against the moving wheel; the abra- 
sion of contact and wet sand wear 
away portions of the glass. A much 
more complex and time-consuming 
method is carving the surface with 
sharp, abrasive hand tools. This 
technique is frequently used in com- 
bination with cased glass, which 
consists of two or more layers of 
glass, usually of varying colors. 


Candelabrum, late i8th century 
Cut glass, bronze and stoneware 

Gift ofjudgc Irwin Untermyer, 
1956-179-1 A, B 

fused together on one object. 
Carving through the layers produces 
rchcf decoration, either in a color 
which boldly contrasts with the 
underlayer or a subtle gradation of 
tones similar to cameo-work in stone 
or shell. The Museum collection 
includes noteworthy examples of 
layered and carved glass. Of great 
interest are carved bottles from 
China (Fig. i6a, b). Glass was known 
in China as early as the Han dynasty 
(206 B.C.-A.D. 220), but native 
production may have occurred later. 
For the Chinese, glass became a sub- 
stitute for the highly prized jade, and 
was painstakingly carved in tech- 
niques and patterns clearly derived 
trom work in stone. Overlays of 
richly colored glass in relief designs 
contrasted with the underlying 

i6a, b. China 

Snuff Bottles, 19th century 
Carved overlay glass 

a. Anonymous gift, 1952-164-5 

b. Gift of the Misses Hewitt, 
193 1-64-5 1 

17. EmilcGalle (1846-1904) 
Nancy, France 

Vase, about 1895 

Cut and etched overlay glass 

Gift of Harry Harkness Flagler, 

Oriental cut overlay glass was one 
source of inspiration for late 19th 
century European glass-makers. A 
genius in the use of carved and etched 
layered glass was Emile Galle (1846- 
1904) , who adapted the Chinese style 
to produce sensuous and delicate 
naturalistic patterns of flowers and 
toliage (Fig. 17). A glass form, such 
as this vase, was overlaid with layers 
of colored glass, varying in thickness 
according to the design plan. In early 
Galle pieces produced by this tech- 
nique, the layers ot glass were carc- 
tully cut away on the wheel to pro- 
duce multi-colored patterns and 
extremely subtle gradations of tone 
and opacity, hi another example of 
layered, cut and etched glass, a vase 
probably made in Stourbridge, 
England about 1910, the layers of 
glass have been etched with acid to 

Attributed to Thomas Fereday 

For Thomas Webb and Sons, Stour- 
bridge, England 

Vase, about 1910 

Overlay glass, acid etched, with yellow 

ground, red and white overlay 

Gift of Harry Harkness Flagler 1949-89-1 

19- Detail of wheel engraving. 

reveal the underlayers and to pro- 
duce a matte, velvet-like surface 
(Fig. 1 8). 

Engraved decoration may also be a 
machine or hand process. For hand 
engraving the point of a diamond, 
hand held, is the standard tool. 
Alternatively, extremely small and 
delicate wheels, usually made of 
copper, are rotated with a coating of 
fme abrasive; when the glass object is 
brought into contact with the wheel, 
the delicate abrasive causes a white 
scratch on the surface of the object. 
Continuous scratches in carefully 
controlled patterns and at varying 
depths create subtle gradations of 
reflected and absorbed light. En- 
graving techniques were known as 
early as the Roman period. Impres- 
sive engraving on glass occurred in 

the Germanic countries during the 
1 8th century, clearly exemplified in a 
superb group of goblets and vessels 
in the Cooper-Hewitt collection 
engraved with representations of the 
Four Continents (Fig. 14a, b), a 
bequest ot the Trustees of the Estate 
ot James Hazen Hyde. 

Many less sophisticated examples of 
engraving, upon close examination, 
will reveal the blurred edges of in- 
dividual wheel marks (Fig. 19), a 
help in distinguishing between 
wheel engraving and the smooth- 
edged acid etching. 

It was probably in the 17th century 
that it was discovered that hydro- 
fluoric acid was one of the few sub- 
stances which could quickly attack 
the surface ot glass, and could be 

used alone or with other chemicals to 
create a brilliant polish, a matte 
frosted surface, or deep cuts, de- 
pending on the concentration and 
composition of the etching solution. 

To produce an acid-etched pattern 
on glass, the surface ot the object was 
first coated with a material such as 
wa.x or resin that resists the acid. 
Scratches cut through the resin allow 
the acid to come in contact with the 
surface at specific points. Acid etch- 
ings may be used with overlays ot 
colored glass to achieve subtle 
gradations of tone (Fig. 18), or to 
achieve equally subtle contrasts ot 
glass on matte surfaces, as in the 
Rene Lalique (i 860-1945) "Gros 
Scarabces" vase (cover), or to pro- 
duce deep incisions on textured sur- 
faces, as in the Koloman Moser vase 


20. Koloman Moser (Moser Glass Works) 
Vienna, Austria 

Vase, about 1925 

Clear and blue-streaked cased glass, 

acid etched 

Gift of Mrs. John Ralph from the Collec- 
tion of her sister Mrs. Evsie Belousoffand 
in her memory, 
1961-1 13-2 

of about 1925 (Fig. 20) with a com- 
plex pattern offish and seaweed. 
LaHque's particular contribution to 
the use of matte surface glass is his 
skillful contrast of a shiny, sparkling 
surface with the velvet-like, nearly 
powdery surface to achieve solid 
sculptural forms in the Art Deco 
style (Fig. 21). 

21. Rene Lalique (1860-1945) 

Footed Dish: "Sirene", about 1930 
Frosted glass 

Gift ofjacques Jugeat, 
1 969- 1 26-5 



Among the most appealing charac- 
teristics of glass is its potential for 
crystal clarity and total absence of 
color in the transparent material, or 
brilliant, clear, and jewel-like colors. 
Color was an important component 
of glass in the early Egyptian days of 
glassmaking; both the body and 
decorative additions were fabricated 
in bright hues of yellow, turquoise 
and deep blue. Control of the color 
in the molten mixture demands a 
sophisticated and specialized knowl- 
edge; for example, the addition of 
copper to the mixture and the careful 
control of furnace atmosphere and 
temperature can turn glass various 
shades from green to blue or deep 
red. Copper may even be caused to 
remain in suspension to create spar- 
kling metallic flakes in the glass. 

Various elements and metals can be 
added to the glass mixture to pro- 
duce a rainbow of colors. Among the 
more important are: 

Cobalt: the most intense of the 
coloring additives, cobalt can pro- 
duce a blue color so deep as to appear 
nearly black. 

Gold: gold is used to produce a 
range of red colors in glass; particu- 
larly noteworthy is a deep and rich 

red, frequently used to case clear 
glass, and subsequently cut through 
on the engraver's wheel to produce a 
striking contrast of red and white. 

Antimony: produces an opaque 
yellow glass. 

Iron: produces a range of color from 
yellow to green to blue; when added 
to a batch of glass in the form of iron 
oxide will produce the familiar deep 
"bottle" green. 

Copper: as noted above, copper 
added to glass mixture can produce 
blues, greens, reds, and glittering 
metal in suspension. 

Manganese: can be used to produce 
an amethyst color. 

Certain colors of glass were more 
popular than others at particular 
tmies. For example, during the latter 
part of the i8th and early 19th cen- 
tury, a typical deep sapphire blue 
glass was produced that was used 
alone, brilliantly facetted, as in an 
Irish pitcher of about 1820 (Fig. 22), 
or it frequently appeared as a simple 
plain-bodied liner for pierced silver 
objects such as salt cellars. 

A striking use of color to achieve 


23- Possibly Bohemia 

Covered Vase, late 19th century 
Clear and ruby-colored glass, cut and 

Gift ofjames B. Ford 
1 920-8- 10 

22. Probably Ireland 

Pitcher, about 1820 
Dark blue cut glass 

Anonymous gift, 

splendid effects of light reflection is 
seen in the Museum's covered vase 
from the second half of the 19th 
century (Fig. 23). The massive vase, 
composed of geometrically cut 
moldings and a twisted knop has 
been covered in a thin layer with bril- 
liant ruby coloring. The wheel- 
engraved decoration of scrolls, fo- 
liage, and birds surrounds a central 
oval containing a delicately engraved 
buck in a landscape setting. The 
engraver's wheel has cut through the 
red outer layer to reveal the crystal 
clear glass underneath. 

A more sophisticated use of the 
refractive quality of glass legiti- 
mately falls within the category of 
color manipulation. Drops of clear 
glass, facetted at the cutter's wheel 
and polished to a high gloss, as in the 

24. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) 
New York 

Vase, about 1910 
"Aquamarine" glass, with colored 
opaque occlusions 

From the Collection of the late Stanley 
Siegel; the Gift of Stanley Siegel, 

late 18th-century candelabrum (Fig. 
15), prismatically shatter incident 
light into the color spectrum, con- 
stantly changing according to the en- 
vironmental conditions. Color in its 
purest sense— as light-has been cap- 
tured by the glassmaker in this 

Surface color may also be achieved 
by exposing the glass to various 
chemicals, thus causing iridescence 
on the surface, not unlike the natural 
iridescence found on ancient glass 
vessels. The primary exponent of 
this lustrous and evanescent surface 
was the American, Louis Comfort 
Tiffany (Fig. 5). Born in 1848, 
Tiffany studied landscape painting 
with George Inness; in 1879, he, 
along with Samuel Colman and 
Candace Wheeler, founded a decora- 

ting firm. Tiftany collected ancient 
glass and admired the brilliant sur- 
face iridescence and organic, often 
irregular forms, of the free-blown 
vessels. It was shortly thereafter that 
Tiffany began producing iridescent 
glass at his studios. The collector 
Samuel Bing once described Tif- 
fany's glass as". . . so subtle, delicate 
and mysterious that the water of an 
exquisite pearl can alone be com- 
pared to them." 

Different colors of glass may also be 
combined in the same piece to pro- 
duce patterns. In the heavy stemmed 
vase by Tiffany (Fig. 24), canes or 
rods of various colors are carefully 
built into successive gathers of clear, 
pale-tinted glass; each layer of glass is 
heated in the furnace to fuse the in- 
dividual pieces into one. Several dis- 


dnct layers of glass may be detected 
on close examination. Finally, the 
blossoms, fabricated from thin slices 
of colored canes of glass, are laid on 
the tops of the stems and the entire 
piece surmounted by a free-blown 
glass bowl, fused to the stem. 

Cased glass is best represented in 
many modern works in the Cooper- 
Hewitt collection (Fig. 25). Casing 
of glass consists of adding successive 
thick or thin layers of glass to a core; 
often these are of contrasting color. 

still holds a magical fascination for 
artists and designers. The Cooper- 
Hewitt collection of glass, covering 
an admirable and impressive period 
of time, continues to expand in scope 
and variety, and is a fundamental 
resource for the study of techniques 
and the enjoyment of the beauty of 
the material. 

This brief overview of the tech- 
niques used by glassmakcrs over the 
centuries suggests some of the possi- 
bilities for forming and decorating 
glass objects. It is important to 
recognize that this material, so 
prized and admired by the ancients. 

David Revere McFadden 

Curator of Decorative Arts 

25. Salviati Factory 
Murano, Italy 

Vase, about i960 

Cased clear, blue, and red glass 

Gift of Michael Lewis Balamuth, 



Selected Reading 

The Art Work of Louis C. Tiffany. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1914) 
Arwas, Victor. Glass: Art Nouveau to Art Deco. (New York: Rizzoli, 1977) 

Beard, Geoffrey W. Nineteenth Century Cameo Glass. (Newport, England: Ceramic Book Co., 1956) 
Buckley, Wilfred. The Art of Glass. (London: Phaidon Press, 1939) 

European Glass. (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926) 

Corning, New York Museum of Glass. Glass from the Ancient World. (Corning, New York: Museum of Glass, 1957) 

Three Great Centuries of Venetian Glass. (Corning, New York: Museum of Glass, 1958) 

Elville, E. M. Collector's Dictionary of Glass. (London: Country Life, Ltd., 1961) 

Gardner, Paul V. Glass [The Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques.] (New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1979) 

The Glass of Frederick Carder. (New York: Crown, 1971) 

Gros-Galliner, Gabriella. Glass: A Guide for Collectors. (New York: Stein & Day, 1970) 
Grover, Ray, and Grover, Lee. Art Glass Nouveau. (Rutland, Vt. and Tokyo: C. E. Tuttle, 1967) 

Carved and Decorated European Art Glass. (Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle, 1970) 

Haudicquer de Blancourt, Jean. The Art of Glass. (London: Dan. Brown, Tho. Bennet, D. Midwinter, Tho. Leigh, 

andR. Wilkin, 1699) 
Haynes, E. Barrington. Glass Through the Ages. (Harmondsworth, England: Pelican Books, 1959) 
Hunter, Frederick William. Stiegel Glass. (New York: Dover Publications, 1967) 
Kampfer, F. and Beyer, K.G. Glass; A World History (London: Studio Vista, 1966). 
Koch, Robert. Louis C. Tifany, Rebel in Glass. (New York: Crown Publishers, 1964) 
McKearin, George Skinner, and McKearin, Helen. American Glass. (New York: Crown Publishers, 1948) 

Two Hundred Years of American Blown Glass. (New York: Crown Publishers, 1962) 

Mariacher, Giovanni. Italian Blown Glass from Ancient Rome to Venice. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961) 
Middlemas, Robert Keith, and Davis, Derek C. Colored Glass. (New York: C. N. Potter, 1968) 
Perrot, Paul. Steuben: Seventy Years of American Glassmaking. (New York: Praeger, 1974) 

A Short History of Glass Engraving. (New York: Steuben Glass, 1973) 

Polak, Ada Buch. Modem Glass. (London: Faber& Faber, 1962) 

Saldern, Axel von. German Enamelled Glass: The Edwin f. Beinecke Collection and Related Pieces. [Corning Museum of 

Glass Monograph No. 2]. (Corning, New York: 1965) 


Schwartz, Marvin D. Collector's Guide to Antique American Glass. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1969) 

Steenberg, Elisa. Swedish Glass. (New York: Barrows, 1950) 

Wakefield, Hugh. Nineteenth Century British Glass. (London: Faber& Faber, 1961) 

Weiss, Gustav. The Book of Glass. (New York: Praeger, 1971) 

Wilson, K. M. New Enqland Glass and Glassmaking. (New York: Crowell, 1972) 

With gratitude to Mr. Joseph Upharn, technical consultant, and Mr. Marvin D. Schwartz for their invaluable assistance. 




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